Why the CDC is again turning to masks to help stop COVID-19

The expert physicians and scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending that Americans—even those who are fully immunized with one of the three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available in this country—wear masks in indoor public spaces if they live in areas with high or substantial rates of virus transmission.

The masks serve as another layer of protection against transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant that now accounts for 80% of cases in the U.S. The CDC also is recommending that children, teachers and staffers in K–12 schools across the nation wear masks in the coming school year, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. This brings the agency’s recommendations in line with those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AMA strongly supports the scientifically driven changes.

“With cases of COVID-19 continuing to increase in the United States and a significant number of people who remain unvaccinated, the CDC’s updated mask guidance is needed to help curb the spread of COVID-19—particularly the Delta variant, which we know is much more contagious,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, in a statement. “Wearing a mask is a small, but important protective measure that can help us all stay safer.”

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.